Now retired, I am going through some new experiences as a pastor who served congregations dating back to the 70’s. That’s a long time ago! In particular, I remember and continue to miss the congregation I served the beginning of my ministry, the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport, Iowa. This is the church where our daughter Emily was baptized (April 12, 1981). I will always remember this day. Standing as a parent I was asked by the pastor the name of my child. I answered with confidence – “Susan”! Everyone started laughing. I couldn’t understand why everyone would laugh at such a sacred time. The pastor leaned in and asked: “Isn’t your daughter’s name Emily?” An Associate Pastor in that church, I’m glad I was standing with my daughter as a dad instead of pastor performing the baptism. “Susan” is our daughter’s middle name. I have no idea why my brain told me give the wrong name. I now wonder what kind of holy-mistakes my nerves would have caused me to make if I was actually doing the baptism of my own daughter? I will always remember this baptism!
Another church I that will always be close to my heart – the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church in Saginaw, MI. I served this church as pastor from 1985 until my retirement in 2013. Through Facebook, I recently experienced the birthday of a member of this congregation who just turned 30. I will call him BJ. In looking at all the people wishing him a “Happy Birthday”, I realized with a smile on my face that this church continues to be BJ’s “family’. All the congregations I have been blessed to serve through the years of ministry are members of this family. And this is the truth: I remember your baptism!
Honestly? I remember BJ’s baptism because one of the cherished files I keep is a written log of all the baptisms I have performed throughout my ministry. I often find myself looking at this log of baptisms. I don’t remember the actual day this young man, as an infant, was sprinkled with sacred water with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit”. I don’t remember what he was wearing or what I was preaching. I do, however, know he was baptized the same day another baby was baptized. I remember the parents of these children who continue to be active members of Christ’s family. By the way, BJ was baptized on September 20, 1987. He is still an active member of he Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church.
BJ and all those baptized on the chancel steps of the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church and churches around the globe are members of the huge family named “Christian”. This 30 year old man, BJ, is now a police officer. I am sure proud of him and all of his accomplishments! I thank God for the opportunity to watch him grow as an active member and officer in the church I once served.
And my point? REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM! Remember who it is who pronounced faith in Jesus Christ prior to your being sprinkled with sacred water–your parents. Remember who continues to hold you and protect you–God.
This Holy Week, remember who lived and died and rose from death to be our Lord and our Savior.
I’m glad I’ve gotten back to writing in this blog.